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Launch of Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia in Wales

A new chapter in the fight against dementia has begun with the launch of Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia in Wales. Since its launch in England in 2013, Reading Well has reached 778,000 people, and 96% of those who borrowed a book from the dementia list said it had been helpful.

The Welsh rollout of the scheme – Darllen Yn Well – is funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians Cymru. The Reading Agency is also working with the Welsh Books Council to make the books available in Welsh for the first time and to create adapted Welsh-language resources to support the scheme.

The books

Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia provides information and advice, support for living well, advice for relatives and carers, and personal stories. The list also includes fiction, memoir and photographic books used in reminiscence therapy. All of the titles are endorsed by health professionals and are free to borrow from all Welsh library authorities.

National launch

Left to right: Professor Neil Frude, Beti George, Andrew Woodhead

An official launch event for the initiative was held at the European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) conference in Cardiff on 11 July 2018, followed by a drinks reception in the palatial halls of the National Museum of Wales to keep everyone nicely distracted from the World Cup semi-final!

Prominent BBC Cymru broadcaster Beti George was a keynote speaker at the launch, talking powerfully about her experience caring for her late partner David Parry-Jones, who was living with Alzheimer’s: “It was his books that kept him content and on an even keel, which made my life as a carer that much easier.”

We also heard from expert by experience Andrew Woodhead, who, as an individual currently living with younger onset dementia, emphasised the importance of a person-centred approach to dementia care, holding up Reading Well title Hearing the Person with Dementia as a prime example. The founder of the original Books on Prescription scheme Professor Neil Frude and Vice Chair of SCL Cymru Nicola Pitman highlighted the vital role libraries and reading play in boosting health and wellbeing.

Browse #ReadingWellWales and #DarllenYnWellCymru on Twitter to catch up with more launch activities and pictures.

Local activities

The launch festivities continued on Thursday 12 July with a special tea party for residents of Fairwater Day Centre in Cardiff, complete with homemade Reading Well/Darllen Yn Well cupcakes and a RemPod, a reconstructed 60s living room designed to encourage reminiscence and improve quality of life for those in care.

Photos courtesy of Cardiff Council

The need

There is an enormous need for quality-assured support for dementia care in Wales. Recent studies estimate that there are between 38,444 and 55,829 people living with dementia in Wales1 and that by 2021, the number of people with dementia across Wales will increase by 31% – and by as much as 44% in some rural areas.2

The new Dementia Action Plan for Wales highlights a clinical need for Welsh-language resources, as native Welsh speakers with dementia may only understand or be able to communicate in their first language as their condition progresses.

Dementia Action Plan

Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia supports the Welsh Government’s Dementia Action Plan and has the endorsement of the Welsh Government.

Vaughan Gething, Health Secretary at the Welsh Government, said: “The Welsh Government’s dementia action plan outlines our priorities for action in achieving a dementia friendly nation and is supported by an additional £10m investment. The Reading Well scheme will help people understand and manage their own health and wellbeing using self-help interventions. Our dementia action plan also recognises the importance of people receiving care and support in their preferred language, so it is very important that these books are also available in Welsh.”


The scheme is supported by Alzheimer’s Society, British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, The British Psychological Society, Carers UK, Dementia UK, Innovations in Dementia, National Association of Primary Care, NHS England (IAPT), Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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1. A Global and National Perspective on Dementia, Dr Catrin Hedd Jones, Bangor University, 2018.

2. National Dementia Vision for Wales, Welsh Assembly Government, 2011.

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